US suspending solar panel tariffs on four Asian nations, not China

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Monday will suspend tariffs for two years on solar panel imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam – but not China – as the US seeks to boost domestic clean energy manufacturing, the White House said.

Biden’s administration will also invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to accelerate domestic production, and use the federal government’s purchasing power to increase demand, a fact sheet said.

China is excluded as the Commerce Department investigates whether certain Chinese companies are circumventing US customs duties by assembling parts in the four countries.

“Today’s clean energy technologies are a critical part of the arsenal we must harness to lower energy costs for families, reduce risks to our power grid, and tackle the urgent crisis of a changing climate,” the White House said.

It added that, compared to when Biden took office, the US was on track to triple domestic solar manufacturing capacity by 2024, from 7.5 gigawatts to 22.5 gigawatts, enough to enable 3.3 million homes to switch to solar each year.

Monday’s actions include invoking the DPA to force the manufacture of clean energy in key areas including solar parts like photovoltaic modules and module components.

Former president Donald Trump previously used the same powers during the Covid pandemic to increase production of medicines and equipment, and it was also invoked during World War II.

The two-year tariff suspension window meanwhile is intended as a “bridge” to ensure the United States has access to sufficient supply of parts to meet electricity generation needs while domestic capacity scales up.